Prices keep falling…US installs record solar capacity

This week, the US Department of Energy’s Berkeley Lab released its annual analysis of solar energy in the US. It found that nearly half the generating capacity was installed in the US during 2021 and is poised to dominate future installs. That’s in part because costs have dropped by more than 75 percent since 2010; it’s now often cheaper to build and operate a solar plant than it is to simply buy fuel for an existing natural gas plant…

Five states now receive more than 15 percent of their electricity from solar power, including Massachusetts and Vermont, with California receiving 25 percent of its electricity from the Sun.

Solar’s expansion has largely been driven by falling costs. The DOE estimates that the price of building a solar plant has been dropping by an average of about 10 percent a year, leading to a fall of over 75 percent since 2010. That has left prices averaging about $1.35 for each watt of capacity in 2021. Large-scale plants benefit the most, with projects over 50 megawatts costing about 20 percent less than those under 20 MW.

Say “Amen”…

Send the bill to Donald!

U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Dearie, a New York City-based jurist named by a federal judge in Florida to act as a so-called special master in the review of more than 11,000 documents the FBI confiscated, proposed on Thursday that former Magistrate Judge James Orenstein help with the process…

Orenstein spent 16 years as a federal magistrate in the same Brooklyn courthouse where Dearie sits…

Dearie proposed that the former magistrate, who has a top secret clearance, be paid $500 an hour for work on the Trump documents case. The federal judge who named Dearie as special master, Florida-based Aileen Cannon, has previously ruled that Trump must assume all expenses related to the review.


The “rice capital of California” is now a wasteland

San Francisco Chronicle

Normally, by September, the drive north from Sacramento on Interstate 5 showcases vast stretches of flooded rice fields on both sides, farms bustling with tractors and workers preparing for fall harvest.

Not this year, said Kurt Richter, a third-generation rice farmer in Colusa, the rice capital of California where the local economy relies heavily on agriculture. “It is now just a wasteland,” he said.

As drought endures for a third year with record-breaking temperatures and diminishing water supplies, more than half of California’s rice fields are estimated to be left barren without harvest — about 300,000 out of the 550,000 or so in reported acres, provisional data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows. This year, rice is estimated to account for just 2% of total planted acres across the state…

The dramatic reduction in rice acreage will translate to lost revenue of an estimated $500 million, about 40% of which will be covered by federal crop insurance, according to UC Davis agricultural economist Aaron Smith.

Insurance only covers set amounts. Surviving the death of your livelihood, what may be the last breath of spirit from generations of working families, can drive folks away from everything that has been root and branch of their whole lives.

Building last sold for $4M. Then Banksy painted a small mural on it…

Asking price went to $30M

An historic building in downtown Los Angeles which is adorned with a world-famous Banksy artwork is being sold, and its owners hope the addition of the subversive artist’s work will push the price above $30 million.

Banksy painted the mural in 2010 while in Los Angeles for the premiere of his documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop. Tarina Tarantino and Alfonso Campos bought the building, at 908-910 S Broadway, in 2007 for $4 million and said that over the following decade they spent about $1.8 million on renovations…

The couple told The New York Times that tenants pulled out of leases during the pandemic and they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As a result the building will be sold to the highest bidder next month.

Tarantino and Campos believe the building is worth $16 million. However, they say the addition of the Banksy pushes the price substantially higher.

Yeah, Banksy rocks! What a talent.

US Army Grounds Entire Fleet of 400 Chinook Helicopters

The US Army has grounded its entire fleet of some 400 CH-47 Chinook transport helicopters after engine fires broke out on a few of them, a spokeswoman for the service said Tuesday evening.

“The Army has identified the root cause of fuel leaks that caused a small number of engine fires among an isolated number of H-47 helicopters, and is implementing corrective measures to resolve this issue,” the spokeswoman, Cynthia Smith said in a statement…

The iconic twin-engine aircraft, an Army workhorse for six decades, is manufactured by the Boeing Co. and its engines are made by Honeywell International Inc…

Boeing referred questions to the Army. Honeywell said in a statement that, working with the Army, it had “helped discover that O-rings not meeting Honeywell design specifications had been installed in some T55 engines during routine and scheduled maintenance at an Army depot.

In other words, installing replacement O-rings from Uncle Fred’s O-ring Bargain Store was a mistake.

LG and Honda will build battery plant in GOUSA

Japan’s Honda Motor Co will set up a new lithium-ion battery plant for electric vehicles in the United States with Korean battery supplier LG Energy Solution Ltd, the two companies said on Monday.

Battery makers are looking to increase production in the U.S. where a shift toward electric vehicles could increase as the country implements stricter regulation and tightens tax credit eligibility.


The investment will be $4.4 billion, the two companies said in a statement, aiming for annual production capacity of approximately 40 GWh with the batteries supplied exclusively to Honda facilities in North America to power Honda and Acura EV models.

The pair are expected to establish a joint venture before building the plant, with the start of construction planned for early 2023 and mass-production by the end of 2025.

$4.4 billion to build a manufacturing facility that can grow and provide core components throughout North and South America for decades to come. Seems smart enough to me. Too bad we haven’t more American investors with this level of cash, courage and economic understanding.

We couldn’t afford a London flat, so we bought a farm in Italy instead . . .

The UK’s exorbitant housing market has driven Lucie Davidson and her boyfriend Jerry O’Shea to radically expand their property search.

The couple started househunting in May last year. They were looking for a one-bedroom flat in Brixton, Bermondsey or Camberwell in south London and their budget was up to £450,000.

They found nothing. So instead they decided to buy a 110-acre farm in central Italy with no running water or electricity and a farmhouse that had been badly damaged by an earthquake…The thought of starting a new life together as farmers in the Italian region of Le Marche seemed preferable to “spending half a million pounds to live in a box”, said Lucie, 26…

I know the feeling. Been down that thoughtful road a couple of times. Circumstances were never quite right…as far as my personal life was concerned. Owned a chunk of disposable property , one sort or another over time, which could have been sold to fund such a purchase. But, the waiting paid off because I found my wonderful Helen and she already had a delightful place just outside Santa Fe.

We married. I sold my house in town. Moved about 8 miles to La Cieneguilla…30 years ago. Couldn’t be happier.